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Kala NyxKala Nyx finds the science and romance of cheese fascinating. "As Market of Choice's Cheese Merchandiser, I work with amazing people from all over the Northwest and the world to find the finest products for our foodie customers," she says.
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Susan McCormick has been rocking our taste buds with her pepper jellies for many years. She took some time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions and let us into her and the Pepperheads spicy world!

Q: When did you start making jelly?
A: “ 1997. This is the 20th year, and I am so excited!” says Susan. 

Q: When did you know it was something that you wanted to do as a business?
A: “When all my friends and family wanted to buy some other than at Christmas time. That was really fun for me and got me thinking. Wow, I should make this more often. With the encouragement of my family and friends I started Rose City Pepperheads and never looked back.”

Q: What is your favorite pairing with your jelly (cheese, meats, beer, wine, cider, accompaniments)?
A: Susan McCormick-Owner & Jelly Artisan: “I know it is unfair for me to have a favorite when I have over 30 flavors. Hands down, my all-time favorite is the Hollerin' Huckleberry with St. Agur Bleu Cheese and Chop Sopressata Salami. A close second is the Sneaky Ghost as a pizza sauce base with a four cheese-blend, topped with pepperoni and caramelized onions.”

Erin, who has worked with Susan for more than four years: “A Bourbon Blaze Burger with Havarti cheese. Or, whisk Ginger Garlic with soy and sesame oil for an amazing Asian salad dressing.”
Amanda, Susan’s niece, who has worked with her for 13 years: “Grilled Brie with Ch Ch Cherry Bomb would be my last meal.”

Beth, the baker in the house, who has worked with Susan for almost one year: “Brownie bites, made with Raspberry Habanero or Marionberry Blast. Also, my cupcakes with a Lime n' Da Coconut butter cream are hard to pass up1"

Howard, who runs the farm, helps make jelly and is “the love of my life” says Susan: “My favorite is the Sizzlin' Strawberry, made into shortbread thumbprint cookies, and Black Jack-glazed Chinook salmon.”

Q: If you were trapped on a desert island which jelly would you want to be stranded with you?
A: “Sneaky Ghost and Mango Madness and I would really hope they had Avocado and mango trees.”

Q: If you weren’t making jelly what would you be doing and where?    
A: “I would really like to learn to be a butcher. I would like to be stranded in Spain learning how to make cured meats and artisan cheeses. When I retire, I would like to own an old-fashioned pie shop.”

Q: What would you like MOC customers to know about your jellies?    
A: “We are an actual Farm-to-Jar company. We grow over 50 percent of our own hot peppers and pick them ourselves. The jellies are small-batch and handmade, from start to finish. We are one of the only companies that doesn’t use sodium in our products. We were ranked as one of the top 50 grocery items in the State of Oregon for 2016. We won the Grand Championship at the Scovie Awards for our Sneaky Ghost in New Mexico this year, as well as eleven category Awards. We really love what we do and we hope it shows in every jar!”
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An Oregon gem, Portland Creamery makes fantastic chèvre, which is featured at a great price in our two-week circular, Savories, now through January 19th. My recent Q & A with owner and cheesemaker Liz Alvis provides some insight into this local producer, whose mission is to turn high quality single-origin goat milk into delicious chèvre.
 
Q. When did you start making cheese?
A. Portland Creamery was launched October 2011, so we just turned 5 years old! I started making cheese with my mom a few years prior.
 
Q. When did you know it was something you wanted to do as a business?
A. In 2009, I watched my mom launch her creamery (Mackenzie Creamery) in Ohio, and knew it was something I wanted to explore. I was working in the wine industry, and it was a very natural transition to move to cheese!
 
Q. What is your favorite cheese pairing – beer, wine, cider, accompaniments?
A. Our chèvre pairs well with so many flavors! Our Oregon Chèvre is nice on a cheese plate with a drizzle of Cajeta (goat milk caramel) or as an addition to your favorite dish. The simplicity and pureness of our cheese is a delicious situation – for beer, a nice crisp fresh hop IPA; for wine, a ruby Oregon Pinot Noir or crisp Pinot Gris or a nice dry Cider from our friends at Wandering Aengus or Portland Cider Co.
 
Q. If you were stranded on a desert island, which cheese would you want with you?
A. I would want the Oregon Chèvre! It's so lovely and not a cheese I get tired of eating.
 
Q. If you weren’t making cheese, what would you be doing and where?
A. Hard to say! Perhaps still in the wine world in the PNW. Or maybe living in Bali, working as an underwater photographer.
 
Q. What would you like MOC customers to know about your cheese?
A. I always like to share the healthy aspect of goat cheese. In the world of dairy, it's a fantastic option for easy digestion and overall health benefit. I also would share with MOC customers that we have an amazing small cheese team at Portland Creamery and without all of us, this would not be possible. We also have an incredible source of goat milk. Good milk + good process + good people = great cheese!
 
I’d like to thank Liz for taking the time to share, especially since she just gave birth to her son Vann a couple weeks ago. Congrats, Liz, on the newest addition to the family!
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It’s a new year and a fantastic time to appreciate the beauty around us in Oregon!

My blog posts this year will focus on local producers, so when you shop at your Market Cheese Shop you’ll know a little something extra about the people behind the products. I’m kicking off the year with Albina City Nuts, a family-run nut roasting company in Portland. Scott from Albina City Nuts, pictured with the crew above, was kind enough to chat with me:

170106KalaNyxCheeseMerchandiserBlog3Q. When did you start to get interested in specialty nuts?
A. I was working as a cheese monger and wanted to create a product that could act as an accoutrement to a local cheese plate. Working with Oregon Hazelnuts seemed like a great place to start.

Q. When did you know it was something that you wanted to do as a business?
A. Pretty quickly. Working with Oregon Hazelnuts really made us want to focus on making delicious products that used the great nuts that are grown in our back yard.

Q. What is your favorite pairing with Albina City Nuts (beer, wine, cider, cheeses, accompaniments)?
A. Our Sweet & Salty Hazelnuts are great on top of a good triple cream brie. I also love to snack on our Toasted Corn with a good beer. Yum.

Q. If you were trapped on a desert island, which crunchy treats would you want to be stranded with you?
A. Well, I love potato chips. So I'd have to have some of those and of course some Oregon hazelnuts!

Q. If you weren’t in the nut business what would you be doing and where?
A. Most likely something to do with food. I loved working with cheese. Or, if was lucky, I'd be surfing every day in Mexico.

Q. What would you like MOC customers to know about your products?
A. We are really proud to be an Oregon small business, working with Oregon-grown nuts as one of our main ingredients. We also love having a small team of employees who work hard to make great products.

Your Market Cheese Shop will be featuring Albina City Nuts Toasted Corn, Sweet Oregon Hazelnuts and Sweet & Salty Hazelnuts in our Savories ad from Jan. 6 – 19, 2017. Stop in and pick up some tasty, crunchy treats at a great price, and support an Oregon food producer!
October is my favorite month of the year! The colorful leaves, the smell of the first fireplace fires being lit, Northwest apples coming into season and our annual Harvest Cheese Sale!

This year’s selections for the sale include:

Laura Chenel Summer Fig Chevre – Fantastic in dried dates, wrapped with bacon and drizzled with balsamic.

Cabot’s Private Stock Cheddar – Break off chunks to enjoy with a crunchy apple.

Cypress Grove’s legendary Humboldt Fog – An accent of vegetable ash makes it dynamic on a cheese plate with the different textures.

Wyke’s Smoked Cheddar – Chewy Irish Cheddar smoked with oak chips that were soaked with hard cider; fantastic shredded and melted with ham in a panini.

In addition to these and other fantastic cheeses at great prices, don’t forget to pick up some 34Degrees crackers, Corozon del Sol Quince paste, Les Petite Cochon Mustard and more to get a jump on holiday-entertaining essentials.

Visit your Market Cheese Shop Thursday, Oct. 20 through Sunday, Oct. 23, to snack on some yummy samples, enjoy the bounty of the season, and guess the weight of the cheese for a chance to win a grand gift basket of Harvest Sale items!

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160411CheeseBlogLocal is a trendy catch phrase right now and a lot of people are using the term. I want to take a moment to celebrate what local means to me and to your Market Cheese Shop.

With nine stores, all located in Oregon, and a 10th store opening this summer in Bend, Market of Choice is proud to be Oregon grown and Oregon owned! We have three stores in the Portland metro area, one in Corvallis, four in Eugene and one store in Ashland, and we refer to Oregon products as local. We also honor our northern neighbor, Washington, and refer to amazing products from that state as regional items. Our next Savories ad, which begins on April 15, will celebrate the local bounty of Oregon. In the Cheese Shops there will be four great flavors of Portland’s Olympia Provisions salami on sale, along with the fantastic fruit spreads and pâtés from Oregon Growers in Hood River and La Mariposa Chubut cheeses, made in Albany.

Here are some other local heroes in your Market Cheese Shops:

If you are fortunate enough to be in Ashland, stop by your Market Cheese Shop and check out some cheesemakers that are so local, the other stores don’t carry their products yet! Mama Terra Micro Creamery from Williams, Oregon makes fantastic chèvre in innovative flavors, and By George Farm in the lovely Applegate Valley has transformed the creamy goodness of milk from its Jersey Cows into Brie, fromage blanc and feta that will delight your palate! Our Ashland store also sells the largest variety of Rogue Creamery cheeses outside of Rogue’s own cheese shop, so if you forgot to grab some award-winning Blue in Central Point, you can find it in Ashland.

Our stores in Eugene are a stone’s throw from Ferns’ Edge Goat Dairy in Lowell, where some of the mildest chèvre I’ve ever tasted is made, along with some fantastic award-winning aged cheeses.

Our location in Corvallis is lucky to have cheeses from OSU Creamery, which are made on the Oregon State University campus with milk from the OSU dairy. They win the closest proximity award! Albany is nearby—home to La Mariposa and Ochoa’s Queseria—and Willamette Valley Cheese Co. is just down the road in Salem!

Portland is home to Ancient Heritage Dairy and Portland Creamery, which are bringing cow, sheep and goats’ milk cheeses into the area from the center of the city. Fraga Farm and Briar Rose Creamery are just west of Portland and make stunning cheeses in a territory that also produces incredible wines.

I must also mention Face Rock Creamery in Bandon, River’s Edge Creamery outside of Siletz and Tillamook—and anyone else offering the bounty of great cheeses, fine meats and tasty accompaniments that we’re fortunate enough to have in Oregon. The best way to experience them is in person! Come visit your Market Cheese Shop and ask your Cheese Steward for a delectable tour of Oregon. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the variety this great state has to offer, and you’ll see why Market of Choice is truly grateful to call Oregon home.

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Cheese Merchandiser List